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Performing Arts

Hun Krabok

Thai Puppet Show


The puppet's costume hangs from the shoulder down covering the hinged hands. For manipulation, two long bamboo sticks are attached to both hands of the puppet.
(c) ONCC

Hun Krabok is a traditional puppet play, which derives its name from one type of puppet.
In some ways, Hun Krabok can be considered an imitation of traditional drama.
The performances usually consist of excerpts taken from many well-known dramas.

Reasons for selection

As a popular cultural fare, the Hun serves a number of functions. First, it provides popular entertainment. The performances are offered to audiences "just to make them enjoy themselves." Second, Hun Krabok, like most of Thai literature, incorporates moralistic messages to various degrees. Finally, the audiences could use these performances subconsciously for cathartic purposes, especially through the representation of highly emotional and dramatic scenes.

Area where performed

Central part of Thailand

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Puppet Theatre

Detailed explanation

Brief history
The Hun Krabok was first mentioned around 1895, when it was performed at the funeral of one of the King Rama IV's children. Since then, it has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment among Thai people. During the reign of King Rama V, there were many Hun Krabok troupes. The puppet play seems to have lost its appeal after the year 1925 or shortly thereafter, only to regain its popularity when Khun Chakrabhand Posayyakrit, one of the most famous artists in Thailand reintroduced it to the public in a successful performance at the National Theatre in 1975. The revival came as an effort to preserve traditional modes of entertainment.

Characteristics and how it is performed
The word hun means "puppet," while krabok describes a type of wood which is hollow, such as the bamboo. This kind of puppet is so named, because its body is attached to the latter at the lower neck area which is so hinged that the head could be moved or adjusted during the performance. Similarly attached to the body are the two hands, also hinged and movable. The puppet's costume, hanging from the shoulder down, covers these attachments or hinges. For manipulation, two long bamboo sticks, about the length of the costume, are attached to both hands of the puppet; these are called "chopsticks."

Where and when it is performed
In the past, Hun Krabok or other types of Hun were performed during festivals or special occasions, at the same site where other forms of entertainment were offered.
The Hun Krabok enjoys a wide range of following, from the children to the old folks, from the royalty to the ordinary people. Hun has been performed exclusively in the palaces, e.g. in front of their Majesties, the royal children, and the royal court and guests; or in temple grounds where people from all walks of life could attend. It can be performed indoors, e.g. inside a theater, or outdoors.

Publication and textual documentation

Posaygakrit, Chakrabhand
1986 Hun Thai Thai Puppet .
Bangkok: Permanent Secretary for Education Office. In Thai.

CHANDAVIJ, Natthapatra
1998, Thai Puppets & Khon Masks
Thailand: River Books. In English

Audio documentation

no information at present

Visual documentation

no information at present

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Ministry of Culture
Tel: 66-2248-5850, Fax: 66-2248-5841

Fine Arts Department

Office of the National Culture Commission

Data provider

Ms. Sudhasinee Vajrabul
Director, External Cultural Relations Division
The Office of the National Culture Commission
Address: 4 Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10320, Thailand

(Revised in July 2004)
Ms. Darunee Thamapodol
External Relations Division, Ministry of Culture
4th Floor, ONCC Bldg., Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand